PROFILED BY DE GROOTS MEDIA
“What, no cutlery?” I hear you scream. “And where are the plates?” Don’t worry, you haven’t been short-changed, this is cuisine from the Horn of Africa, so there is no crockery and your eating utensils are dangling at the end of your arms. Still not convinced? Then let me explain. Food from the Horn consists mainly of wots, which are dense, slow-cooked stews of meat, chicken or even lentils, cooked in clarified butter and subtly spiced with berbere pepper and aromatic spices such as cumin, cardamom and cinnamon. Chunks of tender vegetables and seafood make up the rest of the menu but if it’s all too new then put yourself in the expert hands of your host, Vittorio Silvestro, and order the banquet.
Soon a sizeable tray will emerge from the kitchen, sporting what looks like a large spongy pancake. This is injera which is a sour, slightly vinegary bread that doubles as both crockery and tablecloth. Onto this are arrayed your selection of dishes, lined up around the edges like the knights at the round table. All that remains is for you to rip off a chunk of injera, wrap it around a morsel of stew and eat. There are a number of African restaurants dotted around Melbourne’s inner western suburbs, and although the Abyssinian is one of the newer ones it’s already garnered a good following and an excellent reputation. The food is first class, the decor is evocative and the welcome is warm.